“Uncontrolled temper is soon dissipated on others. Resentment, bitterness, and self-pity build up inside our hearts and eat away at our spiritual lives like a slowly spreading cancer.” – Jerry Bridges
Bitterness is a difficult and destructive emotion to hold on to. It begins in the heart, and slowly begins to infect our families, friends, and church. It doesn’t usually start out as bitterness and hatred toward somebody or something else, though, but rather begins as confusion, misunderstanding, and discontentment.
As I mentioned before I’ve had some experience with bitterness and trying to get past it. The past two and a half years have been struggle after struggle to keep giving sour feelings to the Lord and letting Him work through me.
For me, the bulk of it started about two years ago when a disagreement about future plans happened between my church and some members of my family. It seemed like both sides were right about some things, and both sides were wrong on some points. This continued for several weeks until a family member left our church (they never walked away from the Lord however, and they are once again attending my church, allowing God to mend many relationships).
Immediately after that I felt like I had constantly been hit upside the head with a baseball bat. This “event” left the entire church and my family feeling almost numb. It was hard for me to continue to go to church, as I blamed my church for pushing my family member out, and I blamed that family member for not having done things more delicately and leaving me behind with the mess. And a few weeks later I started to date my first boyfriend, which is another story in itself. And then a few weeks after that my pastor was diagnosed with cancer. Think of the most twisty, terrifying, and vomit-inducing roller coaster you can remember; that was my emotional state for about a year.
Throughout that year I hardly went to church except for Sundays, and when I did, I was frustrated and bitter. I tried to rely on the Lord’s stability, but I was more testy and arrogant than a child, and I argued with my dad (who is the most amazing dad) almost every day. I would cry and get depressed and nauseous many days. I felt lost, and as much as I opened my Bible and told myself I was doing okay and moving forward, I wasn’t. Things were just a big mess.
But folks, that’s not where this story ends. Jesus is so good, and He has some crazy kind of love for me that I am beyond grateful for. In this past year, He has worked and chipped away at the bitterness in my heart to the point where I now have a love and respect for my pastor I honestly did not have before, and even now God is working in my family’s life to bring us close again. I am content with where God has me at the moment, and I have a decent job with great coworkers, and I still have a great church family. There’s still some healing to be had, but I’m worlds away from where I was before. All I had to do was be willing for God to come in and clean me up.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…” – Hebrews 12:14-15